The game Mortal Kombat has never been shy of a bit of publicity thanks to the level of gore contained within the game and ignited fierce debate with the release of its first instalment back in 1992.
Sega was happy to release the game with the full gore and fatalities of the original arcade game (albeit with the special code to unlock them) whilst Nintendo was very strict in toning things down by swapping the red blood for grey sweat and significant changes to the Fatality moves for each character. Nintendo was very much looking after its “family friendly” branding by enforcing these changes for the SNES port of Mortal Kombat.
Over the years, advancements in graphics technology has brought gaming into the third dimension and the ability to more easily create realistic and immersive gaming environments. Games like Grand Theft Auto (putting aside their own issues such the violence contained within the game and the “hot coffee” hack) have come a long way from the original top down two dimensional game to the most recent three dimensional bustling world of GTA4.
What this does come down to though is the ongoing struggle regarding video games classifications in Australia. Whilst the latest version of Mortal Kombat has received the “refused classification” it could have well received the proposed R18+ rating or equivalent if it existed. Australia has had a disruptive period after the federal election where the incumbent government is hanging on by a thread which is already under strain with promises to the crossbench coming into question. In parallel, the attorneys-general of the state and territory governments have been making slow progress despite the political backdrop currently unravelling.
At its most basic though the banning of Mortal Kombat may be seen as an achievement by censorship advocates but I reckon it could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to getting the R18+ video games rating out of the gates. The issue of access to such content and how it will be regulated and policed is still a major sticking point nonetheless.
At any rate, it might be a bit too early for either side to claim victory or even a lead in this ongoing battle.